“Over 20 million people have been affected by the worst monsoon rains in decades, with about 1600 dead”


Pakistan is going through a terrible time at this moment. As we have heard on the news – the country has been ravaged with floods and heavy rains that are threatening the very existence of the Pakistani people as they know it.
“The worst disaster in the history of Pakistan is in the making”
There has been a massive response from the international community to come to the aide of our fellow brothers and sisters in their hour of need. It seems though, that the task before is greater than the resources we have. It would appear that there is nothing we can do to help those in need without bankrupting or harming ourselves in the process because the need is so great. As I was thinking about this I was reminded of the when Jesus fed the 5000 in the desert.

“Hope is the word which God has written on the brow of every man. ~Victor Hugo”

The need before them was great, and their resources were not equal to the need or the task before them. It seemed an impossible situation. BUT GOD. I believe that although it is painful to see what is unfolding in Pakistan, and we must, to the best of our ability, pledge what we can to help, what we need now is God. This situation requires something much greater than food or clothing, mother Theresa said one occasion that Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. And that is true. Our fellow brothers and sisters out there not only need food to eat and clothes to wera which are essential, but they also need to know that we care. They need our prayers and our commitment to stand with them in their hour of need. To tell them that they are not alone and they are not forgotten.

“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged foreign donors on Sunday to speed up aid to Pakistan and warned of more destruction after floods that have already disrupted lives of a tenth of its 170 million people”

I have attached a few pictures here not just to inform you of the sheer extent of the devastation, but to encourage you to look into your heart and really put yourself in the shoes of those who have, in their eyes, lost everything. What would you want right now? Wouldn’t it be something to know that there are people who care for you despite having never met you or known your name, but by virtue of being human, and children of God, they were moved to sacrifice on your behalf. Isn’t that the message of the gospel?

Please follow this link and play your part – your brother and sister need you.
http://www.redcross.org.uk/Donate-Now/Make-a-single-donation/Red-Cross-Pakistan-Floods-Appeal

The call of God creates conflict in your life. FACT. The kind of conflict that comes because one is so aware of one’s humanity and frailty and yet have this drive to do His will. With this comes the tension in that people see the gift or the amount of gifting that one has – and yet you know who you are. There is a difference between you and your gift.

When God calls you to do anything he gives you a gift and the gift is perfect. There is no need to pray about the gift because the gift is given. However you do have to struggle with who YOU are. Because if you do not work on the one that holds the gift, you will destroy what God has given you. What is visible to everyone else is the talent and the treasure but you face the man in the mirror. You’re human somewhere. Within all of us there are weaknesses and it is those that we must manage. One must accept that one is human WITHOUT giving an occasion for the flesh. You have to live with the fact that you are human without allowing yourself liberties that you are not supposed to have. That takes courage. As one walks with God through the different stages in life one faces different challenges. The battles that are faced by a 17 year old young man are different to those faced by a 36 year old or a 53 year old. What is common in that there is opposition but the key difference is young men and old men fight different battles. Bishop TD Jakes observed on one occasion that YOUNG MEN CHEAT FOR SEX, BUT OLDER MEN CHEAT FOR INTIMACY. The action is seemingly the same, but the battles are entirely different. One has to be able to understand what stage they are at in order to equip themselves effectively with the weapons necessary to win the battles. This then raises the question – HOW DOES ONE FIND BALANCE?

On the journey one goes through seasons where you are doing well in your walk but one has to be careful about the peaks because you will say things on the peak that you will struggle to live up to in the valley. There are days when you feel so spiritual that you can‘t understand why anyone would fall over into things that you wouldn’t because you are strong in that area. Then there are days when there voices in your head that are telling you that there is no God. It becomes fundamental on the journey to understand that it is not the ups or the downs but it is steadiness that will allow you to pull through. The ability to have balance and to be stable despite the highs or the lows will be the mark of maturity. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Where are the fathers??

July 26, 2010

43% of US children live without their biological fathers
90% of the homeless children on the streets are from fatherless homes
80% of rapists motivated by displaced anger are from fatherless homes
71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
85% of children who exhibit behavioural disorders are from fatherless homes
90% of adolescents who are repeat arsonists live only with their mothers
71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centres come from fatherless homes
70% of juveniles in the state institutions have no fathers
85% of the youth in prison grew up in fatherless homes
WHERE ARE THE FATHERS??

Below is a letter written by a son, a middle aged man, in search of the father who left and left a scar so deep and unapparent that no one ever knew until he became a father and then it showed. It could be you, it could be someone you know.

Has anyone seen my father?

He should be here any second now, mom said, dad promised, I’m sitting on the porch waiting now – he said he’d come this time. While I’m sitting I might as well write another letter;

Dear Dad,

Thanks. Thanks for not being there. Thanks for all the missed football games and basketball games. Thanks for walking away from me and mum. See I was 4 years old when you walked and I always thought you’d come back but you never did. Thanks for letting me endure the pain of having to look longingly at other kids in the playground with their dads. As they stared angrily back at me as if to say – this is not your father, GET YOUR OWN.

HAS ANYONE SEEN MY FATHER? He walked away at 4 but he promised he was coming back! HAS ANYONE SEEN MY FATHER?? He’s got brown eyes, he told me he was going to take me fishing, then we were going to go to the game and do the things fathers and sons do! HAS ANYONE SEEN MY FATHER???

Has anybody seen him?? Maybe he’s 6:3 and black, or he’s 5:9 and Asian, I don’t care what he is, I just need a man to step up to the plate an do what a man should do!! HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY FATHER??? So here I sit as a grown man, and I don’t wear ties because the day you were meant to teach me you didn’t show up so Mrs Stella at the Community Centre taught me how to BUT THAT’S A MAN’S JOB! I just need you to show up one time dad. My generation is dying we need to be covered, we need to be fathered!!! We need to be taught and affirmed!! HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY FATHER??

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

As the Lord has been doing a mighty work in us at the Nooma Summer Internship, many hearts are being broken for  the Lord and the enemy is shamed as people receive their healing through public confession of sin. As I thought this through I was reminded of a message I watched once by Bishop Jakes in which he discusses the issue of temptation and falling into sin. In his message he makes a distinction between struggling saints and secret sinners.
The reason is because the church today has legitimised sin, and brushed over it with the paint brush of “we all struggle with something” and “we’re all human”. He makes the point that the difference between a struggling saint and a secret sinner is in the attitude towards sin. To better illustrate the point he uses the analogy of a pig and a lamb that have fallen into a pit of mud. When a pig falls into mud it plays, but when a lamb falls into mud, it cries. You can tell the difference between the two mentioned above by the fact that struggling saints have had a revelation of the cross but struggle to shake off the old habits and the mindsets that have held them captive.
Secret sinners in contrast play in the dirt of their iniquity, they are secretive and do not see themselves as stained before the Lord, but see that “small” thing as a minor  bump on the highway that simply needs negotiation not removal. The attitude towards the sin makes or breaks believers.
For those that are crying out to God, tempted by the appetites of the former life, the word of God says this in the book of James:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
The ability to receive, with meekness, the implanted word of God, will save your soul!
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand. She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.
As I have been undergoing some leadership training and learning to become a person of influence, I have become very interested in the idea of how leadership by respect is attained. As you may already know, there are different reasons why people follow “leaders”. Some follow because they are forced to, others follow because they are subordinate to the leader in question and thereby follow due to the position that person holds. However there is a group of people that follow because they respect the person they are following and that isn’t because of position or pressure but they desire to be led by this person. It is this form of influence that has caught my eye and I believe that it fundamentally collapses down to two variables – expectations and consistency.

Expectations are a two way street – the leader has expectations of the person they are leading – these may range from expecting that person to complete tasks or to meet certain standards. The follower also has expectations of the leader – these range from the leader knowing what the follower is capable of and being reasonable with what is required of them. For both parties consistency is the link between expectations and performance. If the leader is consistent in his expectation then the follower feels safe and performs to the best of his ability – even if initially he may not think that he is capable of meeting the expectations initially. If however, the leader is inconsistent in his requirements of the subordinate, then the follower does not know what to expect and does not feel safe and does not perform at the level of excellence because they now operate in fear that the rules of the game could suddenly change without notice.

Failure to correctly manage the two attributes of consistency and expectations determines whether you end up in the virtuous or the vicious cycle as demonstrated in the diagram below:

In a discussion I was having with a colleague we identified that when a leader is unpredicatable – that is you don’t know what to expect from them whether it is behaviour or tasks related, it causes performance to fall as you are only willing to give the bare minimum to someone who may one day appreciate it and then not appreciate it the next day. One colleague had a problem with one of her managers – “you never know whether you’ll meet her in a good mood or in a terrible mood.” As a result she is reluctant to completely commit to her work as she has fear that her boss could love it today when she’s in a good mood, but hate it tomorrow when she’s had a bad day. “I just never know what to expect” she says.

In order to become a person of influence, in addition to the many other attributes that are key to leadership I believe one must understand expectations of those you are leading and engage them and ensure that there are no grey areas with regards to what they are required to do. In addition to that, leaders must be consistent. Consistency allows those that follow to feel safe and to be able to apply themselves fully to their work without fear that the rules will change suddenly.

“Your attitude is an expression of your values, beliefs and expectations”

On May 31st,the world awoke  to yet another catastrophe as Israel raided an aid ship headed for Gaza, according to Al Jazeera:

“Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to break the country’s siege on Gaza.

At least 19 people were killed and dozens injured when troops intercepted the convoy of ships dubbed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, Israeli radio reported.

The flotilla was attacked in international waters, 65km off the Gaza coast.”

Whatever it is that took place, I have been shocked by the ease with which the world accepts the taking of life by one human being from another as common. It shocks me that although there is huge media interest on the story, no one has really stopped to pay respect to those who so tragically lost their lives. No value has been placed on comforting those who have been robbed of their loved ones and the attention is on what happens next. Whatever happened to the sanctity of life?

I met a friend of mine Josefina, who studies International Relations to pick her brain and find out what she thinks of where we find ourselves as a society, and her thoughts were powerful indeed. She mentioned that it is very difficult to say who is right and who is wrong in these kinds of situations but more importantly she highlighted that that question is fundamentally flawed. There is no point asking questions on a scale that is too big for us to influence as individuals, she asked what is different from the loss of life on a boat to the countless murders that are committed in abortion clinics her in the UK. Why is it that we are moved when people perish halfway across the world but are not raising alarms about this society that is doomed to perish unless there is serious reform? Why is it that we advocate for the relief of the desperate in Gaza but cannot stand up for what is right and challenge the status quo that says that to be a true university student is to get drunk a lot, incur a lot of debt, have a lot of sex and then complain that not enough is being done by the government to help poor students. She introduces some powerful thoughts about how it is incredibly hypocritical, as serious as the issues abroad are, to want to be a champion on the world stage when many western families are breaking down everyday. I am persuaded slowly as I listen to this oration that comes out from within as she lays down the passion she has to see real change.

The reason why people can cry for those in Gaza and not their own child who is vexed with drugs and alcoholism is this – it is too painful to confront something you CAN change, so they elect to focus on what they cannot change because at least they’re trying to help. Rubbish. The only way this world will find peace is when we all find something to focus on that is bigger than all of us, that takes away from us the prerogative and the false sense of justice that qualifies us to take lives we can never give back. Josefina boldly states that this world needs God, not just for Him to be there but us to believe in Him because only then can we, through love for our neighbour, see beyond our own prejudices and realise that those things that separate us are but a vapour and can change if there is a will to see that change. I want to applaud. She has hit the nail on the head and I am left investigating where I have chosen to focus on the big picture because the things I can change are too close to home.

There is a choice that is set before us in life and it is this – we can either go through it, wishing that things could be better, encouraging others to try their best and hoping that some day we will see what we hope for come to pass – or we can BE THE CHANGE – we can identify where there is a need and we can meet it – I mean close to home – not in Gaza or Harare, but here in Exeter, on Fore Street, on Sidwell street, we can begin to live beyond the constraints of me, myself and I and make today count. Life is precious and while we have breath in our lungs, we must do what we can to make sure that this world is a better world because we walked on its sands and exchanged life with others like us.

Make today count.

When I close my eyes I see Zimbabwe. In my mind’s eye I see my home. When I see Zimbabwe I see beauty that escapes the grasp of the words of this language. I see brother helping brother, I see mother and daughter united in fetching the water, as she passes years of wisdom and experience down from one generation to another. I see the splendour of the African sun hung against the canopy of the Matopos.  I see hope. I see integrity and dignity on the faces of honest men trying to make a living. I see light at the end of this most treacherous tunnel that has consumed so many and scarred even more. I see new life and I am amazed at the power of the creator to endow us with the power to make a difference.

When I open my ears I hear Zimbabwe. In listening I capture the very familiar sound of home. When I hear Zimbabwe I hear laughter. I hear a people that are jubilant in adversity and thankful in difficulty. I hear the lowing of the cattle at the crack of dawn and the declaration of the rooster that a new day has come. I hear the sound of the water of the Zambezi crashing against the rocks that the Mashona used to erect the Great Zimbabwe. I hear the cry for freedom in the roaring of the thunder and the quenching of the thirst of the land in the fall of the rain. I hear the sound of a nation ready to progress.

When I close my eyes I touch Zimbabwe. As I rub my hands together I feel the hand of my fellow countrymen. When I stretch out my hand I hold in them the wealth of our nation that is the soil of the ground. This land that is the womb out of which our emancipation shall come. When I touch the seed of ground I touch the promise of a brighter Zimbabwe, I touch the source of sustenance that Mwari gave into our trust to cultivate and grow. As I walk through her fields I touch the leaves of the crops that will end hunger and see a people freed from the desperation of the day.

When I am still my nose catches the scent of Zimbabwe. I catch the conspicuous scent of the jacaranda leaves as I walk down the aged streets of my country. This scent that welcomes me into Harare and distinguishes this city where Kaguvi gave his life so that I could live mine in freedom. I smell the anticipation of a brighter tomorrow, this expectation is pregnant in the atmosphere and etched in blood on the hearts of the men I call fathers. I smell the sweat of women who slave away in order to give their offspring a brighter future and I am arrested by the conviction that a day is coming when we have peace that lasts.

When I prepare my meal I taste Zimbabwe. In my hunger I indulge in the pleasures for the tongue that my home offers. I taste the freshly cooked sadza ne muboora that has been prepared on the fire in my village. I taste the fruit of the muuyu tree and I enjoy a sip of maheu as I enjoy the shade under the msasa. In all this I taste more. I taste the blood of the sons and daughters of the soil who believed so in the ideals of equality that they sacrificed their own lives to pass the inheritance to generations to come.  I taste the pain of the mothers who have buried sons to AIDS and daughters who have been violated by those they trusted. I taste victory. I taste the undeniable taste of prosperity for all the peoples of this great land.

My name is Munyaradzi Hoto and I am a Zimbabwean.

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